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The New Arab

Delays hit Aleppo evacuation following 'pro-regime militia disagreement'

Civilians are waiting to leave their homes following punishing air raids [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 December, 2016

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Syrian rebels and their families have been reportedly blocked from leaving East Aleppo by Iraqi and Lebanese militias with the evacuation expected to begin early this morning.
Syrians are preparing to leave their homes in East Aleppo in one of the biggest displacements seen in the six-year war.

Around 60,000 Syrians are trapped in the last remaining districts of Aleppo held by rebels, following an offensive by regime forces which saw the capture of nearly all areas in the city this week.

An agreement was reached on Tuesday to allow the remaining civilians and rebels to leave Aleppo following a truce agreement reached between Russia and the opposition in Turkey.

Buses are expected to take the first evacuees out of Aleppo at 5am local time, with other convoys heading out later in the morning to escort rebel fighters.

They have been given the option of moving to Turkey or rebel-held Idlib with their rifles, but will leave heavy weaponry behind. 

It follows reports of disagreements between foreign pro-regime Shia militias and Russia who organised the truce.

On Tuesday evening, the first bus-load of evacuees from besieged East Aleppo left the district for the west Damascus countryside only to be turned back shortly after, according to opposition media.

Around 150 injured civilians were told they would be the first to leave the last rebel-held districts in Aleppo on Tuesday evening, but Aleppo 24 said foreign pro-regime militias blocked their path. 

Pro-opposition media said that Lebanese and Iraqi militias turned evacuees back following disagreement between commanders and Russia about the evacuation.

The militias had reportedly demanded that the sieges on two Shia towns in rebel-held Idlib province - Fuaa and Kafraya - end, or that troops and civilians could be evacuated to regime territories.

Reports had emerged on Monday of mass killings of civilians by pro-regime militias in Aleppo, causing international outrage and pressure for the evacuation of the remaining people left in East Aleppo.

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